If you’re planning on taking your pet on one of your future flights remember to check with your airline well ahead of time. The dimensions of the airline approved pet carrier isn’t the only consideration; there are legal guidelines related to pet travel, plus every airline has specific requirements. Many airlines have rules regarding the type of pet and number of pets allowed. Often times there is an age requirement as well.
For example most airlines say the pet has to be at least eight weeks old and weaned. An airline may also ask for a current health certificate, issued by the veterinarian (many require one that has been issued within the last 10 days); this document should show that vaccinations are up to date and that your pet is in good health. Airlines won’t allow pets that are in physical distress, ill or violent to fly. Beyond the written requirements, airline personnel have the right to prohibit anything they think is unsafe.
Requirements For Airline Approved Pet Carriers
Airlines have different requirements for travel pet carriers they will allow inside the cabin with all the passengers, versus those that will be in cargo. To fly in the cabin your pet must fit comfortably in the airline approved pet carrier which must fit under the seat in front of you. Fitting comfortably means that your pet can easily lie down, turn around and stand freely. If your pet is too big to fit in the maximum sized carrier allowed in the cabin, your pet may have to fly in the cargo area.
Most airlines have temperature restrictions for pets flying as cargo or as checked baggage, meaning they won’t allow the pet to fly if the temperature will be above 85 F or below 45 F without a Certificate of Acclimation. The travel pet carrier for pets flying as cargo must meet guidelines set by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), since they govern air travel for pets.
Keep in mind traveling is already difficult for cats. Traveling in cargo can be especially stressful for them. If at all possible it’s best to avoid this scenario.
If you know you will be traveling with your pet it’s a good idea to get your pet familiar with the traveling pet carrier before the trip. This can help ease some stress and make it easier to get them ready to go. Soft bedding and a familiar toy can help with this. You should also think about putting a familiar blanket or towel in the carrier while traveling.
Other Pet Travel Considerations
As tempting as it may sound at times tranquilizing or sedating your pet for air travel is not a good idea, and with many airlines not allowed. At sea level most tranquilizers are safe, but with the change of altitude and air pressure these medications can cause cardiovascular and respiratory problems. They also interfere with the natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium, which can be harmful with all the extra movement during the full travel experience.
It’s better to feed your pet well ahead of time, not right before flying; there is a potential for an upset stomach during the flight. It’s best to reduce the amount of food (but not water) the day before traveling, but give them a light meal a couple of hours before checking in. You might want to give them a couple of ice cubes for the journey. They will hopefully melt slowly and be less likely to spill.
Just remember to check with your airline well before traveling to make sure you understand their guidelines about traveling with your pet. In some cases you can buy an airline approved pet carrier at the airport, but it’s better to buy a pet travel carrier ahead of time so your pet can get use to it. Besides with all the fun, stylish pet carriers available you might even enjoy shopping for it._____________________________________